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Letter: Rural and remote

Keep area rural and remote

This weekend a wedding will take place in the quiet, beautiful setting of Little Annie Basin. This area is home to less than twenty residences, but is a playground to countless recreationalists and a crucial buffer to forest service land and wilderness — a place so rich in ecosystem value and historical qualities that the Pitkin County commissioners declared a rural and remote zoning to protect its character. That sounds lovely, except that this wedding demands a massive construction project, erecting a temporary cathedral, a 27,500-square-foot reception tent, and all the vehicles, generators and supplies that go along with such extravagance.

The impact of all this is devastating. For the past week, daily traffic tallies include scores of large semis and countless service vehicles. The traffic is nonstop. I counted over 50 large semis on Friday. The road that’s used is a three-mile stretch of windy narrow dirt that is prone to erosion when subjected to heavy traffic.

The same amount of traffic can be expected on the other end of this huge event. Those of us living up there have to contend with dust, noise, delays and the degradation of our dirt road, not to mention the destruction of a pristine alpine meadow. For those traveling on Castle Creek Road, the impacts are noticeable, as well. From a global carbon-footprint perspective, this also would seem to be a major event, especially considering the relative insignificance for everyone except two highly privileged individuals.

This enormous project has caused great damage to the area, which upsets me greatly. But what angers me more is the perpetrators of such a violation of good judgment and environmental ethics should know better. The Steel family are governors of the Aspen Institute, founded by Walter Paepke who set the standard for harmonizing intellect with nature and home to the Ideas Fest that preaches the values of a better world serving all mankind. How can someone who represents such a great heritage do this? Also, John Miller, owner of the land where the event is being held, has always (until now) been considered a good steward and proprietor over extensive holdings in the area.

I am truly sickened by this kind of gross extravagance. For it to occur in such a fragile environment only makes it worse. For those of you privileged enough to be part of this event, I hope you are aware enough to see the impact of such excess. For those of us less fortunate, who are impacted directly and indirectly, I hope you will be motivated enough to never let a disaster like this happen again.

The Pitkin County Staff recognizes the deficiencies in the County Land-Use Code, which permitted this event to occur and is proposing to close the loopholes. Pitkin County residents need to support these changes so an event like this does not happen again in Little Annie Basin, designated a “rural and remote” area protected by the county code.

Pete Stouffer

Aspen


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